Banbury Community Support Service giving something back to long-time foster carer Jenny

Great-grandmother Jenny Timms looked after more than 200 children during her years as a foster carer.

Now it’s the turn of Oxfordshire County Council to give something back as Jenny enjoys twice-weekly visits to Banbury Community Support Service.

In October last year, Banbury opened one as of eight daytime support facilities in Oxfordshire catering for people who have social care needs and aiming to help older people and those with learning difficulties live safe and healthy lives.

The new system of delivering daytime support served to sustain core services fit for the future in a time of reducing resources. The Community Support Services provide 1,600 days of support per week (3,200 sessions) across eight locations which also include Abingdon, Bicester, Didcot, Oxford, Wallingford, Wantage and Witney.

Service users and their families were given the opportunity to have a wide-ranging input into how the new service should take shape.

When it was announced the service would be integrating people with different social needs, Jenny admitted she was a little nervous.

“In fairness to the county council they did send an officer to speak to us and that’s when I chose the Banbury Community Support Service,” said Jenny, who has four children, 13 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

“I really enjoy coming here. I really admire the staff. They are only as good as their manager and in Martin (Hole) they have someone who leads by example.

“It doesn’t matter what needs doing, he just gets on with it. The other day I saw him fixing a drawer in the kitchen.”

Caring Jenny, 77, had provided a valuable refuge to hundreds of foster children before her life was turned upside down in 2003. She went to hospital for a gallbladder operation but suffered a stroke which left her wheelchair-bound.

As she came to terms with her new predicament, Jenny enjoyed attending Banbury Day Centre in Britannia Road and later a day centre at Stanbridge House.

Exceeding expectations

Reflecting on the first year of the Banbury Community Support Service, Jenny admitted it had far exceeded her expectations.

Jenny, who lives in Bretch Hill, Banbury, with her carer husband Don, enjoys joining in with zumba, spending time in the SMILE sensory room and singing songs as part of a game called Boom.

On the day of our visit to the community support service, she was excited about tucking into specially-delivered fish and chips.

Other users were enjoying a cheese and potato pie they had made in the kitchen, while some were looking forward to a visit to a nearby pub.

Banbury Community Support Service has 64 users on its books and about 34 attend on average each day.

There are a range of options of support available, including support for people to access their community and take part in sports, health or social events.

People attending the service, and guests using the facility can enjoy a computer room where they are encouraged to skype and carry out research; a reminiscence room which is particularly aimed at those with autism and dementia; a blue room for music, dance and drama; a fully equipped sensory room, a lavender room for enjoying films and interactive stories; and a pamper room where they can enjoy foot spas and nail painting.

Promoting choice

Claire Pritchett, Operations Manager for Independent Living Services in Adult Social Care, said: “The concerns we heard from people about a mixed service before we opened were understandable as this was a new way of providing support, people were encouraged to consider accessing community and voluntary sector groups locally on offer. The aim of the project was to promote choice, which it has.

“It has been a busy year and we are constantly working with the people we support and families, the local community and our partners to deliver not only good quality support but also to add value to our community – we are particularly focused on creating deeper links within community and voluntary groups to provide greater opportunities for Banbury.”